ANNAPOLIS: IT WAS ALL ABOUT RECOGNITION
By Micah Halpern
Wednesday November 28, 2007
Cogito Ergo Sum. I think therefore I am.
It is the simple reality of recognition. From the point of view of the United States and Israel it was the driving force behind the Annapolis Conference.
Countries, much like people, crave recognition. Even high-powered people. Even powerful countries. The United States convened the Annapolis Conference not to make peace between Israel and the Palestinians, but to gain recognition and acceptance by the very countries that had refused to acknowledge the greatness of the greatest country in the world. The United States wanted, needed, craved, recognition by Arab and Muslim countries. And the United States succeeded.
At the Annapolis Conference the United States changed long-held policy. When it comes to the Middle East the United States is no longer a defender of Israel, the United States is now diplomatically and officially an even handed deal maker.
This change is significant. It made all the difference in the world to the Arab and Muslim nations attending the Conference, it was why these countries attended the Conference. Yes, Arab and Muslim countries will always believe that the United States is a protector of Israel, but along with that belief comes a new view that the US will, when necessary, abandon a friend i.e. Israel for the greater good. It is a concept that Arab countries will applaud, but never adhere to themselves.
Arab and Muslim countries came to Washington and then to Annapolis in order to recognize the Palestinians. Amongst themselves, the Arab/Muslim world has no significant interest in the Palestinians or in Palestinians statehood. It is not high up on the general priority list. But amongst strangers, the outside world, the United States of America, they had to band together in recognition of brethren.
Arab and Muslim nations needed to cross the world and come to Annapolis solely to bolster Palestinian credibility in the international arena. Along the way, they paid tribute and respect to the United States by offering recognition to an outsider, non Arab/Muslim country, showing interest in the Palestinians. As for the Palestinians, they are too insecure and too insignificant to advance on a peace initiative without the supervision and approval of mainstream leadership.
Without that recognition, Palestinians cease to exist. Lucky for them, one of the holiest sites in the Muslim world, al Aqsa, adorns the city of Jerusalem. It is because of al Aqsa, because the Palestinians are the gate keepers of al Aqsa, that the Muslim world takes interest in and partial responsibility for the plight of the Palestinians.
The most obvious Muslim Arab country not in attendance in Annapolis, not even invited to Annapolis, is Iran. The Annapolis Conference was a direct assault against Iran. One of the foremost goals of Iranian leadership is to drive a wedge between every Muslim and Arab nation and the United States and to build bridges between Muslims world over to unite against both the US and Israel.
The Annapolis Conference was a major setback for the Iranian agenda. Future US success with the Arab and Muslim world vis a vis Iran is not immediately quantifiable, but for the moment, the success was significant. Iran was not only not recognized, it was dissed. Iran was not only not recognized, it was minimized. Iran was not only not recognized, it was neglected.
Because of the US Sponsored Annapolis Conference Israel, a country that craves recognition from the Arab and Muslim world received de facto recognition from the Arab and Muslim world. That so many Arab countries sat together in a room with Israel discussing Israel and the Palestinians, discussing rapprochement, discussing borders and discussing the future means, de facto, that they recognize the very existence of the Jewish state in the Middle East.
Syria attended the Conference specifically to make certain that such policy not apply, it was a condition for Syrian attendance. They wanted to make certain that their issue, the Golan Heights, be dealt with. But what they really wanted was to make certain that the recognition of Israel not be discussed.
In the end, Israel was recognized, but Israeli recognition came with a price. Recognition is all that the Arab and Muslim world can give Israel. The United States gave Israel friendship and support. That friendship can no longer be taken for granted, the United States has new friends to play with.
Friends come and friends go. And in Annapolis Israel was sent up the Severn River without a paddle.
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